As early as 1977, 26 St Nicholas Street was included in a report produced by the KLPT: ‘Heritage in Danger’. By 1986 it was in a poor condition, but still un-occupied. Although the building is not an architectural gem, it is an attractive 19th century house with a 2-storey workshop, which was then virtually derelict.
In 1970 the former King’s Lynn Borough Council proposed the realignment of Austin Street and St Nicholas Street for the re-development of the area. This would involve the demolition of properties along the south side of St Nicholas Street as well as those nearby on the west side of Chapel Street. Following a public enquiry, 26 St Nicholas Street was excluded from the compulsory purchase order and so it stands in isolation at the junction of Chapel Street and St Nicholas Street.
The house forms an important visual stop to St Ann’s Street to the north and is close to St Nicholas’ Chapel. The Trust considered that if it should be demolished, the widening of adjoining streets could follow, so spoiling the character of this part of the town centre. Moreover, the Trust hoped that the repair and re-use of No 26 would act as a catalyst to encourage frontage development along both St Nicolas Street and Chapel Street, to reinstate the traditional street enclosure and conceal the public car park behind.
The Trust acquired the house in 1986, following compulsory purchase proceedings. Building work on the corrent offices started in 1987 with the benefit of grant assistance from English Heritage.
Only modest alterations were made to the original house. The staircase was turned around to improve circulation, the workshop area was modified by adding new windows in the south elevation and reinstating the first floor. The gable end was rebuilt re-using much of the original material.
On completion, the building was purchased from the Trust by a local firm of solicitors who perpetuated the name of the former owner in naming the building ‘White’s House’.